“Conscious uncoupling” is just divorce for elitists

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow and ColdPlay’s Chris Martin have decided to divorce after ten years of marriage and two children. Yet, their announcement to do so did not mention divorce, nor separation. They referred to it as “conscious uncoupling.” One marriage ends, a new, bogus phrase emerges.

On Paltrow’s website, they released a statement under the “Conscious Uncoupling” headline. They stated, in part:

We have been working hard for well over a year, some of it together, some of it separated, to see what might have been possible between us, and we have come to the conclusion that while we love each other very much we will remain separate.

We are parents first and foremost, to two incredibly wonderful children and we ask for their and our space and privacy to be respected at this difficult time.

We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and co-parent, we will be able to continue in the same manner.

The story here isn’t a celebrity power couple getting a divorce. It’s Hollywood, and it’s natural in Hollywood for people who lecture to the rest of America on how to live good, decent, appropriate lives to do whatever is in their best self-interest.

(For the record, I can’t name a single Coldplay song and I often get them confused with Nickelback.)

This is about the use of the term “conscious uncoupling.” If that is actually what they are doing, then they were never married in the first place. Could anything be colder or more sterile than this? To be able to have “conscious uncoupling,” that means you first had to have “conscious coupling.”

“Conscious coupling” is what Sheldon Cooper does with Amy Farrah Fowler.

Marriage is about passion. Marriage is not about compromise, as far too many say, but about sharing ideas and thoughts and values to discover how two people who share love can engage those things in a way that benefits both of them, and their current or future family. That’s much more than “compromise.”

Marriage is not easy. It’s not supposed to be. And, so we’re clear, marriage is not a wedding. A wedding is a party. If you’re more focused on the party than on the marriage, don’t get married.

I have watched many friends get divorced over the past five years. Too many if I’m being honest. And I can say that all of them, without exception, were not about uncoupling. It was not clean and medical and calm and altogether Spock-like.

They were about getting the hell out of an agreement that stunk to high heaven. It was clear, as the outsider looking in, that their marriage was a bad idea to begin with. That, if they had been honest and actually talked to each other before getting married, they would have realized this and never gotten married.

I don’t know if that’s the case with Paltrow and Martin, though those who follow the intricacies of celebrity culture say the marriage looked like a train wreck for years, and only recently have they been seen in public together.

But leave it to Hollywood to try and put an elitist spin on a painful experience. Gwenyth and Chris – you got divorced. It’s ugly, and it must be amazingly painful. Calling it “conscious uncoupling” doesn’t make you above it, doesn’t take away the pain and doesn’t change the reality.

Marriage isn’t easy. Divorce seems to be even harder. No one should try and put a shiny new wrapper on either.


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